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montana vacation, part 2

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After hiking in the Jewel Basin (in Kalispell), our little clan bid farewell to the family and headed south of Missoula for a few final days of camping.  This time the weather was perfect, the lake was refreshing, the hike along the lake to a waterfall was amazing, the huckleberries were tasty, and the trip back home via Missoula was full of memories and future plans (Matt and I met in Missoula, went to college there, and married there too).  Our trip back home, not surprisingly, included rain and a clogged highway (even on a Sunday, boo!), and a loaded veggie garden.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that our neighbor Bob mowed our lawn for us, too.

up the mountain

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After being driven by the weather from our beloved campground, we opted to head home to Kalispell for a hike in the Jewel Basin.  I did this hike once before while living in Kalispell during Matt’s deployment.  Matt and I were itching to climb a mountain, and we knew the kids could handle the 3 mile, 1700 foot elevation gain to the peak of Mount Aeneas.  Jean came with us for the adventure, and so did our very good friend Alan.  Jean and Ashton opted not to hike the last section, along a narrow ridge-line to the summit, instead enjoying the scenery and the mountain goats while the rest of us climbed to the top.  The top offered the breathtaking panoramic mountain-top views we were craving.  After our hours of hiking, we felt good and tuckered out, and had a fantastic excuse to have a beer and relax back at the Joneses (of course, the kids played all evening with their cousins, seemingly unaffected by the hours of hiking).

July and our Montana vacation (part 1)

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July began with a wild Bremerton Fourth of July, Matt’s Navy Rock Band performances, a family hike or two, and then a trip to Montana for Matt’s leave.  We went to our favorite camping and hiking spot, way up in the mountains in Northwest Montana, and invited our tribe to join us.  We anticipated a trip like the ones we’ve experienced before in this spot, full of sunshine, wildflowers, lakes to fish and swim in, and gorgeous mountain vistas (like this, this and this one), but were met instead with rain, snow, mist and, well, more rain.  We huddled together in wet clothes under shelter as best we could, playing card games, heading out on a wet and snowy hiking trip, taking advantage of fishing opportunities during breaks in the rain, and enjoying time together in a beautiful quiet place.  Finally, on our 5th day of rain, after the family had gone home, we decided to let the rain drive us out.  There’s more adventure to come, though!

june

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Matt was out of town a lot, so the kids and I did a lot of adventuring (although we did have some adventures with Matt, too). More beaching with friends on hot days, a hike up Gold Mountain to find it logged (it was so strange but gave us an incredible view), a date with myself, snuggles at home, sunset walks and homegrown daisies, trips to Wild Waves, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, and the Tacoma Zoo/Aquarium with friends, checking out our local Planetarium show, sleepovers and roller skating, a family camping/hiking trip, homegrown veggies, a sunbathing pooch, and more fun outside together.

spring garden

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It’s been quite a treat to be able to have my own real garden again for the first time in years (since we left our home in MT).  It’s not big, but I’m packing in flowers and veggies wherever I find a spot.  In all honesty, the majority of what I’ve been growing lately is grass (watering those darn grass seeds many times a day throughout the hot days of April and May took a lot of time) around our property, in preparation for renting the house when we leave this place in perhaps a year.  When it’s time to leave, my gardens will become grass as well.  But for NOW, I get to enjoy watching these flowers and vegetables go from seed to table, I get to smile as I watch my kids pick lettuce and peas, I get to make beet greens and creamed spinach and fresh salads and tacos with homegrown cilantro, and I get to watch lovely flowers erupt with color.  It’s a wonderful thing.  I do feel sad I won’t be able to watch and tend the plants in this place over the long term, but I hope Matt reads this and knows I want to grow a garden again in our next location.

may

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May brought warm days and beach, a soccer game, Matt leading our UU church choir (and lots more fun days enjoying our church), Cedar the chef and Cedar the scientist (making dry-ice ice-cream and dry ice explosions with our friends), colorful hair on a growing girl, homeschool outside, drying clothes and oregano in the warm sun, more beach and hiking, and Seattle museum-ing with friends.  So much more happened in May that isn’t included here, including a renovation of our back patio, woods walks, more hikes, YMCA classes, more science and cooking experiments by all of us, yard and garden time for Jess, and many days with friends.

camping adventure

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We joined our friends at Ft. Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island for a camping weekend.  It was a different kind of camping experience for our family– less primitive that what we normally do (we even went out to eat in town– but had amazing seafood so it was totally worth it!).  We had a great time, got to know our friends more deeply, enjoyed their little kiddos, played together, went for an epic and stunning hike on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound (I pinched myself more than once to make sure it was real), and did all the fun, connecting things that camping offers.